In 2011, Republicans were in an uproar over an ad that compared Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget plan to “throwing grandma over a cliff.” Now, in 2012, Ryan and his colleagues in the House are introducing a budget that is nearly identical to the one panned in 2011 — one that will cut Medicare, Social Security and other social safety net programs in order to extend tax breaks to the richest Americans and to corporations.
The Republican party is no longer trying to throw Grandma off a cliff. That would be much quicker. Instead, they are trying to freeze, starve and neglect her until she dies. And sadly, it appears to be working.
The latest figures out from a Wider Opportunities for Women study shows that 60 percent of elderly women are unable to pay for basic living expenses. As WomenENews reports, the average elderly woman is living on less than $15,000 a year, about half of what an elderly man is living on. “Using the Elder Economic Security Standard Index, which defines the basic expenses facing retired adults over the age of 65, the organization’s researchers found that an older adult required from $19,100 to $29,000 a year, depending on the individual’s housing situation. Forty-nine percent of white women and 61 percent of older Asian women were unable to meet their monthly expenses for housing, food, health care and other necessities. Three out of four African-American and Hispanic women had insufficient funds.”
There are a number of reasons why elderly women are fairing so badly. Because they tend to outlive their partners, they shoulder more living expenses alone. And due to time off in the workplace and lower pay over their careers they tend to have less in their retirement and pension accounts and receive less in Social Security. Due to their longer lives they are also subject to more health expenses that increase as they grow older, and lose more wealth earlier on caring for sick partners.
As more elderly women fall into poverty — especially minority women — it is a reminder of the increased importance of programs like Medicare and Social Security. And those are two programs that Republicans want to drastically change in order to keep providing disproportionately lower taxes to the wealthy.
It would be kinder just to throw grandma off the cliff than starve her to death.
Photo credit: Thinkstock
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